Tuesday, December 15, 2009

NOW Magazine video from Riverdale Share fundraiser show.

Steven Page Hanukkah song at Riverdale Share from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.

Check out this video of me playing at the annual Riverdale Share fundraiser variety show. Courtesy of NOW Magazine.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Almost done. scattered thoughts. good night.

Album's almost finished - stylistically it's totally all over the map. The most recent batch of songs ranges from 80s dance-pop (think Scritti Politti meets Duran Duran meets ABC meets, um, Modest Mouse?) to Who/Guided By Voices/Hold Steady/Knack garage pop. Oh, all these references - I'm giving away my secrets. Or not - oftentimes these are the touchstones we use in the studio for describing the world we're aiming to enter, and usually the end results sound nothing like what we're talking about. It's why i can never truly describe the music I'm making. Think of it this way: it's pop music. Like always. More uptempo than I'd imagined this record would end up being, and for the better that way. Lyrically, just as sardonic as always. As in, "I'm dancing to a song about WHAT??"

I do a lot of driving back and forth between Toronto and Syracuse, and I try to spend some of that time listening to the radio. When CBC and NPR die out, I listen to evangelical Christian radio until I get so angry, I have to start flipping. Then I get depressed at the state of "modern rock" or whatever it is these days, bored by the repetition of Classic Rock stations, and find myself realizing that pure pop rules the airwaves once again. Sure, there's lots of crap out there, but when i stumble upon a something truly pleasurable on Top 40, I find it makes me stay there longer.

The Shazam app for the iPhone has turned out to be a great help. I downloaded it ages ago, and never used it until recently. I wish there was a way to select a playlist inside of it and instantly buy the whole lot through iTunes though, rather than having to go track-by-track. Perhaps soon I'll put up a "best of my commutes" playlist.

Once I hit the Syracuse area, I'm dismayed to find that many of the stations simulcast on multiple frequencies, diminishing choice even more. And these days, there seem to be an uncomfortable amount of Christmas music stations. And Delilah.
The only thing I can truly stomach on the xmas stations is the Jackson 5 version of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, which might be one of the 10 best pieces of singing ever committed to tape.

Ok. Off to finish wrapping Hanukkah presents. Happy Holidays, folks.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Album Is Dead! Long Live The Album!

Blogging. I will blog. I promise to blog. I am blogging. There. How hard was that, now? Lately I’ve been enjoying the brevity and occasional intimacy of Twitter and Facebook updates over the more detailed endeavour of blogging. I’m sure it’s largely out of sheer laziness; the sight of the blank page of a new Microsoft Word document can sometimes be daunting, but I also enjoy the feeling that I’m text-messaging a whole bunch of people out of the blue. It’s like releasing a single every few weeks rather than waiting for an album to be completed, marketing plan established, and shops to be stocked. They DO say the album’s dead, don’t they?
And that, friends, is why I am, most morbidly, nearing completion of my first real solo album (2005’s The Vanity Project, which will eventually be rebranded under my name, was recorded initially as a record with Stephen Duffy). I’ve been working in Los Angeles, Ontario, and in the basement of my Central New York home on this album for the past few months and I’m truly excited about it. I’ve been working mostly with producer John Fields (Paul Westerberg, Bleu, Semisonic, Jimmy Eat World, and, um, The Jonas Brothers), and it’s been a blast. Before I started recording, people would ask me what kind of record it was going to be, and I really couldn’t answer. I never know what an album will sound like until I’m making it. Maybe it was going to be an album of downtempo folk songs reflecting on the inner and outer tumult in my life the last few years. Or a cabaret-style album of perverse art songs. Or some kind of screaming noise catharsis.
Turns out, it sounds a lot like Steven Page: Power-pop, gay disco, big band swing, acoustic ballads. It seems as eclectic as the the best BNL albums were, but I guess I’m biased that way. Songs were written with Stephen Duffy, Craig Northey, and on my own. Guests include Pete Thomas of The Attractions and The Impostors playing drums on most tracks, vocals from Esthero and Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket, cello from Kevin Fox.
Who knows what the world will think of it. I’ll have to wait until it finally comes out, some time in 2010. Then, a tour will be mounted. As will my horse as I ride by LIKE LADY GODIVA.
Will the album be truly dead by then? Will this collection of songs seem like a quaint relic of a simpler time? Or the out-of-step ramblings of a crazy man? Perhaps once this album’s out of my system, like the baby in Alien, I’ll move on to a more rapid succession of singles and EPs, or maybe I’ll still do both. If Twitter is the single, is the Blog the album? I hope not. Music is better than either.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shows with the Art of Time Ensemble

I'm doing a series of shows with the Art of Time Ensemble in the winter of 2010 at small theaters around Ontario. We finished recording the album and it will be out by then. Come see us perform the songs live!

Feb. 24, 2010 - Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, Brantford, ON [tickets]
Feb. 26, 2010 - Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, Oakville, ON [tickets]
Feb. 27, 2010 - Markham Theatre for the Performing Arts, Markham, ON [tickets]
Mar. 3, 2010 - The Grand Theatre, Kingston, ON [tickets]
Mar. 4, 2010 - Koerner Hall / Telus Centre, Toronto, ON [tickets]
Mar. 5, 2010 - Centre for the Arts - Brock University, St. Catharines, ON [tickets]
Mar. 6, 2010 - Centre in the Square, Kitchener, ON [tickets]
Mar. 7, 2010 - Capitol Arts Centre, North Bay, ON [tickets]
Mar. 10, 2010 - The Rose Theatre, Brampton, ON [tickets]
Mar. 11, 2010 - The Empire Theatre, Belleville, ON [tickets]
Mar. 12, 2010 - Gryphon Theatre, Barrie, ON [tickets]
Mar. 13, 2010 - Showplace Performance Centre, Peterborough, ON [tickets]

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

One More Summer Show!

Well I've been hopping around from Folk Festival to Folk Festival like a tourist on vacation with my main man Kevin Fox on cello, although I'll be solo at the upcoming Calgary Festival and a couple of others. This past weekend's Vancouver Island Festival was a blast (despite my guitars missing the flight connection, everything showed up in time for the gig), as was the huge crowd at Winnipeg. Vancouver is this coming weekend, and I encourage anyone who's coming to the festivals also check out the daytime workshops. They're the heart and soul of the folk fest world, and where you'll often get the most amazing and surprising performances and collaborations. In Winnipeg I had the great honour of sitting onstage with Loudon Wainwright III, Arlo Guthrie, Tom House and Serena Ryder.

One of my favourite places to play, however, is at Jackson-Triggs winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. I've done a few solo gigs there in past years, and I'm always asked by fans when I'm playing there again. Well, the answer is August 19th. It's a big gig called "Rootstock, " and it features myself, Tom Cochrane, Jim Cuddy, John Mann of Spirit of the West and Kathleen Edwards in a songwriters-in-the-round format. Tickets go on presale TODAY. Call the winery box office at Call Jackson-Triggs Box Office at 905-468-4637 or 1-866-589-4637 ext. 2 and quote "ROOTSTOCK" for tickets and information.

There are only 450 tickets available for this show, so call this instant. Or wallow in your own laziness and regret it forever.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Where Were You When...

I guess it will be another one of those "do you remember where you were when you heard..." moments, won't it? I was in my car, checking Twitter (safely, really!) when I saw a tweet saying Michael Jackson had gone into cardiac arrest. I thought of checking CNN.com or something like it, but then I realized that I was most likely going to get whatever news I wanted faster via Twitter, so I kept checking. Within a minute of TMZ (whom I don't even follow) announcing his death, I Tweeted "Holy Fucking Shit. Holy Fucking Shit," and then wondered if I should have waited for confirmation from a more legit source. Tweets started coming in saying that it was only TMZ, that they were just rumour-mongers, and we should wait for confirmation from the medical examiner. But even though TMZ might dish trash (I should know), I can't think of an instance in which they falsely reported someone's death, much less someone of Jackson's stature. If they had reported it falsely, they would likely have lost their value as America's go-to place for breaking news. TMZ can be abhorrent, but they are important, and that has now been confirmed. Jst as the National Enquirer became the source for real news about OJ, the internet, between Twitter and TMZ has found a way to cut through the noise.

I wrote a short piece about my early Jacko memories in today's National Post.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Play It Forward

One of the things that made me proudest of being a Barenaked Lady was our commitment to helping others. Together, we developed a reputation for compassion and dedication to causes near to our hearts. We helped local charities, arts groups, pitched in when there were health or political crises, and always had a great time doing it. It's a great thing to be able to contribute what one does for a living to a great cause. I've been happy to see that my pals in BNL are continuing this tradition with shows to benefit causes such as cancer, literacy and music education (and a tasty ice cream to boot).

I was thrilled to be invited to participate in a few benefit gigs myself lately, and it seemed to make for some fitting first live appearances post-BNL. A couple of weeks ago I played at People For Education's Telling Tales Out of School gala. At the last minute, Jian Ghomeshi cancelled as the host, and I was asked to host it as well. It was a great event for a great cause. PFE have been working tirelessly for years to advocate on behalf of public school students and their familes here in Ontario, and with three sons in the public system, and as a graduate myself, I was more than happy to help out.

Then, last week, I played a set at the fundraising party for the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation in Central New York. I've gotten to know Central New York pretty well over the past couple of years, and Caz is a beautiful little enclave set around a lake. The Foundation has done a great job of maintaining the village vibe as well as warding off the behemoth likes of WalMart et al, ensuring that their community doesn't die the same bleak death of so many other parts of the state/country/world. Driving along Erie Blvd in DeWitt and East Syracuse can be pretty depressing sometimes (goodbye Arthur Treacher, goodbye Krispy Kreme, goodbye Batteries Plus, goodbye Goldberg's Furniture, goodbye Emerald City Video and on and on), so good on 'em. And besides, I thought it was damned nice of them to ask me to play their event. It would be easy for a lot of people in that area to treat me like a pariah, but instead, they've treated me like a friend and neighbour. Even if I spell neighbour the Canadian way. The party was in an airplane hangar, surrounded by vintage aircraft and motorcycles, and when I showed up, the party was in full swing and people were having a blast. They welcomed us, fed us, and sang and danced to the music. There is some bizarre YouTube footage of it, complete with dancers who look like fresh-caught fish flopping on the dock, and a man in a loud madras jacket who looks like he's checking his blackberry until the camera zooms in and you can see he's singing along. Thanks to everyone there for a great night!

On top of those shows, a bunch of other concert announcements for this summer have ben trickling out, so I figured I'd better consolidate them here. Folk Festivals are a huge part of the summer here in Canada, and I have great memories of playing at them, as well as attending them (my Dad was the Chair of the Mariposa Festival when I was a little kid), so I'm trying to hit as many of them as I can this year:

July 4 Mariposa Festival, Orillia, ON
July 10/11 Vancouver Island Musicfest, Courtenay, BC
July 12 Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg, MB
July 18/19 Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Vancouver, BC
July 25/26 Calgary Folk Music Festival, Calgary, AB
August 7 Festival of Friends, Hamilton, ON
August 21/22 Ottawa Folk Festival, Ottawa, ON

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hey Now, The Fair's a-Filling

For the last little while I've had my nose to the grindstone, working on the music I'm writing for Ben Jonson's play Bartholmew Fair, which will be running this coming season at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada. I love working there - this is the third play I've scored - but it's a ton of work. We start meeting before the previous season is even over, and spend months going through the text alone and with the director, Antoni Cimolino, coming up with ideas for musical themes, styles, and where the cues will happen. Then, I sit down with guitar, keyboard and computer and start procrastinating. Well, it's all come to fruition now. Over the past several weeks, I've been out in Stratford at least once a week working with the cast on the songs (there are three songs built into the text, plus I've written incidental score music to help with scene transitions, and to play underneath other sequences as well), and we go into the studio next week to record all the instrumental score tracks.
I've posted one of the songs, in demo form, on both my Facebook page and on Last.fm, so you can get a taste of what I've been doing lately. Hope you enjoy it, and I hope you can make it out sometime this season to see the play, along with some of the other great productions going on this year.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Some Of My Favourite Things (Live)

I've always wanted to make a DVD or a playlist with a collection of my favourite live performances I've seen over the years. I guess that's what YouTube is for. Now and again, I'll just post some of my faves here instead. This is Little Richard from John Lennon's Live Peace In Toronto concert in 1969. Played insanely fast, I've always found this clip incredibly exciting.

On another note, I've always wanted to be able to share iTunes playlists. Anyone know if this can be done? I imagine a world where I could post or email a playlist (just the playlist, not the files), exported from iTunes, and if you don't have any of the songs on it, it would skip them, or you could buy them from the ITMS, and if you did, they'd just play. Thoughts?

Monday, March 16, 2009

I Don't Know Much, But I Know It's YouTube

So Colin Meloy of the Decemberists threw down a gauntlet for reasons unknown to me. On his Twitter feed (is that what it is? a feed? a page? an account? or is it just his Twitter?), he asked fans to write a song about Linda Ronstadt and post them on YouTube. He'll select a winner and post it to his Twitter afountage. I'm a fan, so I figure I qualify.
It was fun to have a challenge to write a song like this, with no real expectations. I'm been up to my ears in writing and orchestrating some faux-Jacobean music for Stratford's production of Bartholmew Fair, so it was a nice treat to write something that comes a little more naturally like this. Being a Ronstadian scholar and all, you know.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Testing 456

Well, between my new Blogger account, and trying to pull the RSS over to Facebook (to? from? near?), I'm trying to figure out how to post photos inside the blogs.  I see over here on Blogger that there's a button for photos.  Shall I click it and see what happens?  Yes, of course I shall.  If it doesn't post in the RSS feed, then I'll have to (after banging my head against the wall) go back and upload them to my Flickr account and link to them from here.  

Wow.  That's a whole lot of corporate social media brand-names in one sentence!  Let me throw some more in just for fun:  Google! Delphi! Prodigy! Compuserve!

What you should be seeing is a picture of the Texas plates we ordered on our trip to Rochester yesterday.  Picked up a cute little Fender Mustang bass at the dusty, disorganized and awesome House of Guitars, and worked up quite an appetite which was quickly vanquished by the Texas Hots Plate at Tacis Irondequoit Hots across the street.  Although it didn't seem to live up to my long-ago memories of Nick Tahou's Garbage Plate, it wasn't 1am, I wasn't drunk, and I wasn't 23.  Still it was probably not that different. I'm sure purists will flame, but welcome to Web 2.0. The plate consisted of two very good hot dogs (local Zweigles), split and griddled to perfection, home fries (the deep-fried chunky kind, not my favourite style) and macaroni salad, covered in mustard, onions and what they call hot sauce - a ground beef deal that seems not too far off from Cincinnati chili, another of my favourite food blogging topics.  

In short, I should have not gone with the mac salad - it didn't do much for the plate, and just added a lump of something cold.  I guess it might be the standard choice, because it's what the dude behind the counter offered me, as in "home fries and macaroni?" Like the locals?  Like, if you don't want to seem like a martian?  What was I thinking in not ordering the baked beans?

We each ate our hot dogs and the sauce and picked at the other bits a little before heading back home and rolling around clutching our bellies.  Who's got bets on me hitting 220 again before this year is over?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Well, day one of the new frontier was exhausting.  Lots of media asking about the past, the future, the reasons.  Well-wishers, dirt-diggers, and everyone in between wanted to know the story.  I really shouldn't be amazed that this is as big a story as it is (especially in Canada, it seems), but am glad and proud of the fact that people care.  I'm really proud of the 20 years I spent with BNL, and it's always heartening to hear how it has affected so many people.  To the fans who are really, truly grieving right now - it's ok to be sad.  This is a big deal for us, and we know there was a kind of magic between us onstage.  But look at it as a twofer.  You'll get their music and mine.  Double your pleasure.  Double the magic.  Like Queen said, "It's a kind of magic."  Or as Pilot said, "Oh oh oh it's magic."  Or as Doug Henning said, "Ta Daa!!"
Can you tell I'm tired?
I'll be on Mix98.5 in Boston at 8:15 tomorrow, WCLZ in Portland, ME at 8:45, and then Friday morning I'll be doing Q on CBC Radio 1.  I can guess that there will be more in between.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gone Solo

Yes, it's official.  I am no longer a Barenaked Lady.  After twenty years (plus a few months), I'm heading out on my own.  I'm really excited about all the opportunities coming my way:  I have an album's worth of songs and will be putting together a new solo album on top of the work I'm doing for this year's Stratford Festival, and a studio recording I did with The Art of Time Ensemble, which will be released later this year with a tour to follow. You can click here to hear what we did live last June.

Blogger, Facebook, Twitter. Anything else I should do? Is Myspace dead?

Stay tuned and I'll keep you updated.